Russia Refutes Chemical Attack in Syria Video + Transcript

Russia Refutes Chemical Attack in Syria Video + Transcript

Russian ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia addressing the Security Council on April 9, 2018, in regard to an alleged chemical attack in the suburban Damascus city of Douma.



Thank you. If you believe it is a great pleasure for me to speak about the issue we will talk about now, and to make a statement, then you are mistaken. Unfortunately, the situation is such that I will have to say a great deal today, and it will be incumbent upon you to listen to what I have to say. We are grateful to Mr. De Mistura [Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Syria] for his briefing as well as to Mr. [Thomas] Markran [Director and Deputy to the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs].

The Russian federation demanded for this meeting to be held on the agenda items, threats to international peace and security, insofar as we are deeply alarmed at the fact that in a number of capitals, above all Washington and those blindly following it, London and Paris, a deliberate policy was undertaken to stoke international tensions. The leadership of the United States, the United Kingdom and France, without any justification and without considering the consequences, have engaged in a confrontational policy against Russia and Syria and they are prompting others to follow suit. A broad arsenal of methods is being leveraged to slander and insult: hawkish rhetoric, blackmail, sanctions and threats to use force against a sovereign state.

Russia is being unpardonably threatened. The tone with which this is being done has gone beyond the threshold of what is acceptable, even during the Cold war. Such boorishness against my country is something your predecessors did not take the liberty to undertake. What is next? We remind a rhetorical question which our President put forward in 2015 from the UN General Assembly to our Western partners, above all the United States, concerning the reckless of their geopolitical experiments in the Middle East. “Do you understand now what you have done?” And the response at that time hung in the air.

But there is a response: no, you do not understand. Just as you fail to understand what you are doing now. The lack of a clear strategy on any issue is appalling not just to us, it confounds not only us, but it confounds the majority of those sitting here. But they have decided not to openly put this forward to you, following you everywhere you go, regardless of the fact that with everything you touch, chaos is left behind in the brackish waters from which you try to take out fish, something, but only mutant fish are being taken out. I will put forward another rhetorical question. Do you understand the dangerous threshold towards which you are bringing the world?

One of the areas where the hostility is most stark is Syria. The terrorists and extremists supported by external sponsors are enduring a defeat there. Let us recall that we are talking about those terrorists and extremists whom you supplied, financed, and deployed in a country to oust a legitimate government. Now it is clear why this is causing hysteria among those who invested political capital in these dark forces.

Recently, thanks to the efforts undertaken by Russia in line with the Security Council resolutions, a large-scale operation has been undertaken to lift the siege of Eastern Ghouta. Its residents, for a number of years, were forced to endure the mockery and torture of fighters. More than 150,000 civilians were evacuated from that Damascus suburb, completely voluntarily, with the requisite security conditions being provided. Tens of thousands of them have already been able to return to the liberated areas and many met with their relatives. There has been no change [or replacement of population]: this composition being shouted about by supporters of the Syrian opposition has not occurred. These are lies.

With the leaders of these armed groups, difficult negotiations took place. As a result, many of them left the areas they had occupied, with full respect for guarantees for their safety. Incidentally, during the transportation operations, several attempts were undertaken to stage terrorist attacks when the militants attempted to reach the buses with suicide belts. Others preferred to settle their status with the Syrian authorities. Thanks to Presidential amnesties, they will be able to return to civilian life, and subsequently, they may even enter the Syrian security forces. We are talking about implementation of a UN principle: demobilization, disarmament and reintegration.

However, this positive dynamic is not to the liking of some foreign sponsors through Western countries who are willing to take up any straw just to maintain a hotbed of terrorist resistance at a striking distance from the Syrian capital, so that the fighters can continue to terrorize ordinary civilians, to seize their food and to request from the international community that humanitarian assistance be delivered. Incidentally, they were not prepared to share medicine with ordinary civilians – as was shown in the inspection of the stronghold left behind by the fighters. It was already the case in the past in Eastern Aleppo: improvised hospital facilities in basements were full of medicine which, as a result of sanctions – Western sanctions –, were not provided to Damascus and other government-controlled areas.

Also, large storage of [indistinct] were found as were the bodies and corpses of people who had been subjected to torture. We are stunned at the scale of the tunnels that were used by Jihadis. In some of them, small trucks were able to freely move about. These surprising underground facilities brought together the positions of groups who are viewed by some as moderate, and they were linked to the stronghold of the Al-Nosra Front.

On April 6, the new head of Jaysh al-Islam, following instructions of sponsors, derailed the evacuation of a party of fighters from Douma and resumed the rocket and mortar fire against residential areas in Damascus. The firing targeted [indistinct name of four areas]. According to official information, eight people died. 37 civilians were wounded. Unfortunately, we failed to see statements from Western capitals condemning the shelling of a historical district of Damascus. The following day, April 7, fighters accused the Syrian authorities of dropping barrel bombs with toxic substances. At the same time, diversions were being mixed up. It was either called sarin, chlorine, or a mix of toxic gases. Based on a well-known scheme, these rumors were immediately taken out by those who are financed by western capitalists; I am referring to NGOs and the White Helmets who are mendaciously acting under the cloak of health professionals. And these reports were also taken up and transferred to media outlets.

It behooves us once again to state that many of these dubious structures have a clear list of the email addresses of representatives of Security Council members, which shows that some of our colleagues, with a reckless approach towards their status, are leaking sensitive information to their protégés. Incidentally, all should recall the way that accidentally, the White Helmets put on the internet a video which showed preparations for staging a so-called victim of an alleged attack perpetrated by the Syrian army.

In 2011, the chemical serial began, and it continues to be shown to us with the calculation for each new episode to be more resonant than the one prior to it. In Washington, London, and Paris, immediate conclusions were drawn, pinning blame on the Syrian authorities, or as they call it, the Syrian regime. Has nobody wondered why would Damascus need this? There were insults against the Syrian leadership. However, the main burden of responsibility was pinned on Russia and Iran. And I think this is hardly surprising to anybody at this point, but this was done immediately based on current trends, without any investigation being conducted.

On April 8, the Syrian troops sweeping through {Al-Shimona} near Douma found a homemade Jaysh al-Islam manufacturing area to manufacture chemical substances artisanally. Chlorine agents of German manufacture and special equipment were also discovered. In Istanbul, an opposition journalist, [indistinct name], put on his Twitter page a video allegedly from the area of the incident, probably from the White Helmets. An unknown individual is next to a handmade bomb with a chemical that allegedly struck the bedroom of a building in Douma. All of this was accompanied by comments about another attack by the regime against civilians. The staged nature of this action is something of which there is no doubt. The trajectory of the alleged bomb is unnatural. This bomb supposedly entered, piercing through a roof, and naturally, calmly, fell into a bed, without even damaging this bed.  Can a bomb fall on a wooden bed without even damaging the wooden bed?! Clearly, it was placed there prior to preparation for the staging.

There’s an interesting sequence of events. The chemical provocation in Douma on Saturday, April 7, occurred immediately after the US delegation at the Security Council received instructions to convene for today, Monday, April 9, to convene expert level consultations on their draft resolution on the mechanism to investigate incidents with chemical weapons. The initial text today has far-reaching changes and revisions.

Under these obscure circumstances, we need of course to get to the bottom of what is taking place. However, we need to do so in an honest, objective, impartial way, without disregarding the principle of presumption of innocence, and by no means prejudging the outcome of the investigation. Despite provocations, Russian specialists continue their efforts to resolve the situation in Eastern Ghouta.

On the afternoon of Sunday, April 8, following a new agreement that was reached, the evacuation of Jaysh al-Islam fighters resumed. Following the liberation of Douma from fighters, Russian specialists on radiological, chemical and biological protection were sent there to collect evidence and information. They took soil samples which show the lack of any nerve agent or chlorine substances.

Locals were interviewed about the cessation of resistance to the fighters. Not a single local resident confirmed the chemical attack having taken place. In local hospitals, there were no reports about symptoms from a toxic substance such as chlorine. Other medical facilities are not located in Douma. The bodies of the dead as a result of contamination were not found. Medical personnel and residents have no information about their potential burial areas. Thereby, the use of sarin and chlorine is not confirmed. Incidentally, the representatives of the Syrian Red Crescent refuted the statement allegedly made on their behalf about a delivery of assistance to victims of toxic gas. I call upon those who will speak against me and slander the regime to proceed from the premise that there was no chemical weapons attack.

Sweden prepared a draft resolution to investigate the incident. In principle, in order to conduct an investigation, the OPCW needs no resolution. However, we are willing to consider this resolution. Today, we propose that what you envisage in your draft be done. Let the OPCW, who through the Director-general of the Technical Secretariat Mr. Üzümcü stated a willingness to get to the bottom of what took place, let it immediately tomorrow fly to Damascus. There, the Syrian authorities and Russian troops will provide conditions to travel to the area of the alleged incident for them to familiarize themselves with the situation. Incidentally, this is what President Trump and other Western leaders called on us to undertake.

As for the possibility of a chemical attack, this was repeatedly warned about by the Syrians at the Russian Center for the reconciliation of opposing sides. It was stated that in order to record on film a chemical attack, and I put this in quotes, “the necessary equipment has already been brought in.” We too made the relevant statements at the Security Council. You heard these warnings. You have heard them but deliberately ignore them insofar as they do not align with the doctrinal views of those who seek the elimination of a legitimate government in another Arabic country.

Still, what is not being looked into is the fact that a significant number of chemical weapons were discovered on November-December 2017 in Syrian territory that had been liberated from terrorists. On the storage sites in al-Zakhariya and al-Afafir in Hama province, twenty 1-ton containers were discovered. More than 50 munitions were found which contain toxic chemicals. In Tal-Adli, Idleb province, 24 tons of toxic chemicals were discovered and this is believed to be chlorine. At the storage site Adhamiya, 30 kilometers northeast of Damascus, 240 and 160 millimeter caliber munitions were found. Plastic canisters were found with phosphorus substances and compounds. In the area of Al-Servita, Idlib province, an industrial complex was found for the synthesis of various toxic substances. 54 chemical munitions were found with a 44 chemical containers and these could be used for the manufacture of toxic substances.

From the beginning of this year alone, four instances were reported of fighters using toxic chemicals against positions where government troops are located in Shuja and Al-Mesharif. More than 100 Syrian troops were hospitalized. On March 3rd, when Hazrama and Al-Tars were liberated in Eastern Goutha, fighters from government troops discovered in a tunnel an underground artisanal manufacturing site to produce chemical munitions of a handmade nature. And this is far from a full list. It points to the wrongdoings and abuses by the irreconcilable opposition. However, the OPCW’s experts being sent there to identify evidence is not something which we see people eager to do. We demand that OPCW verify all of those areas. Access can be provided.

Also, information is surfacing that at the Al-Tanf camp, American instructors have trained a number of groups of fighters to stage provocations with chemical weapons used to create a pretext for a strike. It was clear to us that attempts to shelter terrorists and at the same time punish the regime so hated by some Western capitals would sooner or later be undertaken. Speaking heads on television screens sought to repeat last year’s strike against Syria. This morning, there were strikes against the T4 Air Field in Homs province.

We are deeply troubled by such actions. Provocations in Douma echo last year’s incident in Khan Sheikhoun.  The unifying aspect is the fact that there’s a planned nature of these attacks. An analysis of the USS operations prior to and after the incident in Khan Sheikhoun in April 2007 shows that Washington, ahead of time, prepared for its operation. The USS Porter naval destroyer, from 4 to 7 April last year – that is when the toxic substance was used in Khan Sheikhoun, before the strike against the Shayrat airbase –, were already present in the Mediterranean waters where they were engaged in planned operations. They did not enter the ports where an exchange of munitions could have happened in order to increase the number of cruise missiles.

Incidentally, 4 to 5 April, the USS Porter destroyer was located southeast of Sicily, and the USS Ross naval destroyer was in a passage from the Rota naval base in the area south of Sardinia. Later, 6 April, an expedited movement of both naval destroyers was reported towards the firing positions more southwest of Cyprus. From there, on April 7, they conducted a mass strike against the Shayrat airfield. At the same time, the number of Tomahawk missiles that were launched (59) surpassed the overall munitions on both naval destroyers if they had actually been engaged in the anti-missile defense operations that had been assigned to them. For that purpose, only 48 units were necessary. Thereby, US naval vessels, even prior to the chemical incident in Khan Sheikhoun, entered military service with extra strike equipment that is an increase of cruise missiles that were not necessary for the anti-missile defense. And this could attest to prior planning by Washington of an act of strike against Damascus.

The fake news on Saturday from Douma are geared entirely towards drawing attention of society away from the Skripal case which was muddled up by London, and throwing on Russia completely unconfirmed accusations with the aim of pulling solidarity to build an anti-Russian alliance. Now the British are stepping away from a transparent investigation and putting forward specific responses for the questions and at the same time they are sweeping up their tracks. During the Security Council meeting on April 5 on the Skripal case, we cautioned that an attempt to unjustifiably blame us of having had a hand in the Salisbury incident was linked to the Syrian chemical dossier. Yesterday, this issue saw new interesting developments. For the moment, Foreign minister Boris Johnson continues to disclose things against Russia and attempt to be witty, and here’s the following pearl: experts of an RAF listening post south of Cyprus intercepted on the day of Skripal’s poisoning reports sent from Damascus suburbs to Moscow. And this is what Times is reporting. It contains the following sentence, the phrase “The package has been delivered” and “ the two individuals made a successful egress.” This turns out to be part of the intelligence information provided by London two hours prior to the expulsion of Russian diplomats. However is it not clear that there’s an irrefutable link here? Is that not clear to all? Syria-Russia-Salisbury?

I will give a hint to the British intelligence services and I will do so free of charge. Here is another great idea to cover-up their tracks: they could suggest that ‘Novichok’, which is so liked now, reached Salisbury directly from Syria by package. This is a complete mockery here.

Ambassador Haley has recently said that Russia will never be a friend of the United States. And I wish to respond to that. Friendship is something which is both reciprocal and voluntary. One cannot force a friendship. And we are not particularly keen to be friends with you. Nor are we begging to be friends with you. What we want from you is really nothing. It’s something that is normal civilized relations which you arrogantly refuse, disregarding basic courtesies.

And you are misguided if you think that you have friends. So-called friends of yours are only those who cannot say no to you. And this is the sole criterion for friendship in your understanding. Russia has friends and unlike yourselves, we do not have adversaries. We do not view the world through that prism. And yes, international terrorism, that is our enemy. However, we continue to propose cooperation. This needs to be respectful and mutual cooperation, it needs to go towards resolving real and not imagined problems. And you should be just as interested as we are in such a cooperation.

Ultimately, as permanent members of the Security Council, we bear the main responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. Through the relevant channels, we already conveyed to the US that armed force under mendacious pretexts against Syria, where, at the request of the legitimate government of the country, Russian troops have been deployed, could lead to grave repercussions.

We call upon Western politicians to scale down their hawkish rhetoric, to meaningfully consider possible repercussions and to cease the reckless spill over of threats to global security. What military misadventures of the West brought about is well known to us if we consider the examples of Yougoslavia, Iraq and Libya. And nobody has vested you with the power to act as policemen of the world and as investigators, procurators, judges and executioners all at the same time.

We call for your return to the legal fold to comply with the UN Charter and to jointly tackle problems that arise, rather than attempting at each step to advance your egotistical geopolitical game. All of the energy needs to be focused on support for the political process in Syria, to which it is necessary to constructively pull the efforts of all influential players. Russia always stands ready to engage in such cooperation.

To conclude, Mr. President, I wish to take this opportunity to request an open briefing of the Security Council on the outcomes of the UN assessment mission in Raqqa and the situation in the Rahman camp. We see the way of members of the Commission attempting to create a smoke screen around this issue, which is a result of their actions in Syria, including the operation to raze Raqqa to the ground through bombings. No chemical provocations will divert attention from this, from what you’ve done. Thank you.

Russian ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebenzea addressing the UN SC 9 April 2018 Updated with transcript


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